Updated: May 2022
What will the coronavirus vaccine do?
The COVID-19 vaccines are designed to protect you from coronavirus by creating the antibodies and cells required to fight off coronavirus and provide immunity from the virus. Vaccines give the best possible protection against COVID-19.
This does not mean you cannot catch or spread the virus. as the vaccines are given in two doses, and the body takes time to create the protection it needs.
There are three vaccines being administered in the UK:
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (Comirnaty) (5 years and over)
- Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (Vaxveria) (18 years and over)
- Moderna vaccine (Spikevax) (6 years and over).
Will the vaccines be safe for people with muscle-wasting conditions?
Advice from Professor Francesco Muntoni, Professor Ros Quinlivan, Dr Adnan Manzur and Dr Chiara Marini-Bettolo, the four neuromuscular experts leading the paediatric and adult North Star and SMA Reach networks of neuromuscular health professionals:
‘In line with the national and international guidelines, we can advise that the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should be fine to receive for those living with a neuromuscular condition, including those on immunosuppression treatments. We therefore encourage you to get vaccinated at your earliest opportunity.
Those on immunosuppression may have a reduced immune response (in other words, the vaccine will be less effective) but can still have the vaccine.
It is important to remember that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would not have licenced the vaccine if there were any doubts as to its safety.’
There are common side-effects from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine; you can refer to the information provided to you when you received your vaccine, or to the government website. If you have any concerns, you are advised to speak with your neuromuscular clinical team. If you have received a COVID-19 vaccination and have experienced side-effects, you can report all suspected side-effects to the MHRA by using the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting system.
When will I receive a vaccine?
Everyone aged 5 and over is eligible to receive a 1st and 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Those aged 16 and over, and some children aged 12 to 15, can get a booster dose to extend protection.
Some people aged over 12 with severely weakened immune systems may be offered a 3rd dose and a booster.
A spring booster (‘second booster’) is now being offered to people aged 75 and over, people who live in care homes for older people, and people aged 12 and over who have weakened immune systems.
If you have not yet received a vaccine or a booster, you can book an appointment on the NHS website or find a walk-in vaccination centre. If you cannot book appointments online, you can call 119, free of charge.
For more information about who can get a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, please visit:
Advice for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
The general advice is for the whole of the UK. But you can follow these links to find out more specific vaccination information for these nations:
If you have any concerns relating to coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine, you are advised to speak with your neuromuscular clinical team.